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Staying Intact – John Palen

Staying Intact – John Palen
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Staying Intact - John Palen
Staying Intact – John Palen

Poetry. Paper, saddlestitched, 28 pp
$6 plus s&h
1997, ISBN-0-932412-11-4

These poems, as with any real poetry, make us see in new and deeper ways. Most of the works involve common feelings or occurances that we do not normally deem significant or beautiful. John’s elegant use of words brings out that beauty (not always a pleasant beauty).


Sundays at the Office
by John Palen

Each office has its individual touch,
a map of Canada or photographs,
cartoons from the New Yorker. It’s with such
details we intersect each other’s paths
and point to life beyond the cubicle.
Her flowers, dried at home, adorn a shelf,
his children’s crayon drawings crowd the wall,
the signs of a productive, balanced self,

except on Sundays. Then, in the stale air
of pressures, deadlines, weariness and stress,
they’re understood for what they really are,
scraps of the might-have-been, sad images
barely afloat above the undertow
of memos wanting more, wanting it now.


John Palen has worked as a reporter and editor and chairs the journalism department of Central Michigan University, where he writes about science. He holds the Ph.D. in American Studies. His 2005 book, Open Communion, was also published by Mayapple Press. John also has chapbooks published by March Street Press